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Modern memorial for the victims of the Soviet terror of 1937–1938 close to Gorky park, Vinnytsia.

The Vinnytsia massacre was a mass execution of (mostly ethnic Ukrainian) people in the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia by the Soviet secret police NKVD during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge in 1937–1938. Mass graves in Vinnytsia were discovered during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1943. [1] The investigation of this site coincided with the discovery of a similar mass murder site of Poles in Katyn. Because the Nazis wanted to use this evidence of Communist terror to discredit the Soviet Union, it became one of the better researched sites of mass murder among many in Ukraine.

The investigation commission

The first examinations of the exhumed bodies were made by German, Ukrainian and Russian doctors such as professor Gerhard Schrader of the University of Halle-Wittenberg, docent Doroshenko of Vinnytsia, and professor Malinin of Krasnodar. The excavations started in May 1943 at three different locations: the fruit orchard in the west, the central cemetery, and the People's Park. Most of the bodies were found in the fruit orchard (5,644 bodies). Altogether, 91 mass graves were discovered at the three different locations and 9,432 bodies were exhumed; 149 of them were women. The excavations at the People's Park were not finished, though many more bodies were thought to be buried there.[2]

After a preliminary investigation conducted by professor Schrader's team, two teams of medical examiners were invited — one international and the other made up of 13 experts from different universities in Nazi Germany. An international commission of experts in anatomy and forensic pathology was invited from eleven countries in Europe. The experts were:[3]


People of Vinnytsia looking for their relatives among exhumed bodies.

The international commission visited the mass graves between July 13 and July 15, 1943. The German commission completed its report on the July 29, 1943. Both commissions determined that almost all of the victims were executed by two shots in the back of the head between 1937–1938.[4]

468 bodies were identified by people of Vinnytsia and the surroundings, the other 202 were identified on the basis of documents and evidence found in the graves. Most were identified as Ukrainians, but there were also 28 ethnic Poles.[5]

Besides the international expert commission, several other international delegations visited the sites during the summer of 1943. Among them were politicians and other officials from Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Finland and Sweden.[6] Photos and results of the investigation were published in many countries in Europe, and were used by Germany in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union.

Most of the bodies were reburied after a burial service lead by metropolit Vissarion of Odessa. The service was also attended by many other Orthodox bishops and foreign church officials.[7]

A monument was also erected to the "Victims of Stalinist Terror". Later the Soviet authorities rededicated the monument to the "Victims of Nazi Terror", finally completely removing it and creating an entertainment park in its place.[4] During Soviet times, information about the massacre was disseminated and investigated by the Ukrainian diaspora in the West. The mass murder in Vinnytsia was an officially forgotten topic in Ukraine until 1988.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Valery Vasiliev, Yuriy Shapoval, "Stages of «Great Terror»: The Vinnytsia Tragedy", Zerkalo Nedeli, № 31 (406), August 17-23, 2002, (in Russian, in Ukrainian)
  2. Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.83–86, 117. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).
  3. Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.103. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).
  4. 4.0 4.1 About Crime in Vinnytsia Ukrainian society of the repressed. Peter Pavlovych
  5. Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.124, 215–248. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).
  6. Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.6, 206–207. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).
  7. Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.124, 208–209. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).


  • Ihor Kamenetsky. The Tragedy of Vinnytsia: Materials on Stalin's Policy of Extermination in Ukraine/1936-1938, Ukrainian Historical Assn (1991) ISBN 978-0685375600 (available on line in pdf. format)
  • Sandul, I. I., A. P. Stepovy, S. O. Pidhainy. The Black Deeds Of The Kremlin: A White Book. Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror. Toronto. 1953
  • Israel Charny, William S. Parsons, and Samuel Totten. Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. Routledge. New York, London. ISBN: 0-415-94429
  • Dragan, Anthony. Vinnytsia: A Forgotten Holocaust. Jersey City, NJ: Svoboda Press, Ukrainian National Association 1986, octavo, 52 pp. (available on line in pdf. format)
  • Crime of Moscow in Vynnytsia. Ukrainian Publication of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, Inc. New York. 1951
  • Вінниця - Злочин Без Кари. Воскресіння. Київ. 1994
  • Вінницький злочин // Енциклопедія українознавства.: [В 10 т.]. - Перевид. в Україні. - Київ., 1993. - Т.1. - С.282
  • Weiner, Amir (2001). Making sense of war: the Second World War and the fate of the Bolshevik Revolution. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05702-8.

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bg:Виницка трагедия de:Massaker von Winnyzja (1937/1938) ja:ヴィーンヌィツャ大虐殺 pl:Mord w Winnicy ru:Винницкая трагедия sv:Vinnytsiamassakern uk:Вінницька трагедія

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